This is a great, messy, spicy dish that is suited well to the barbecue and outdoor eating. Soft tortillas encase spiced fish and a lively pico de gallo salsa (which means ‘rooster’s beak’, but is really just a fresh salsa with as many variations as there are cooks).
- 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) flathead fillets or other firm white fish, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) dice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- juice of 1 lime
- 20 soft white corn tortillas, 10 cm (4 inch) diameter
- 2 garlic cloves, hit with the flat of a knife and skin discarded
- 1 green capsicum (pepper), seeded and finely diced
- 6 roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1 cm dice
- 1 small red (Spanish) onion, finely diced
- 1–2 small red or green chillies, finely sliced
- 6 coriander (cilantro) stalks, including roots, well washed
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1–2 tsp chipotle powder or similar chilli powder
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need to start the salsa at least half an hour before serving.
To make the salsa, combine the garlic, capsicum, tomato, onion and sliced chilli. Finely chop the coriander, including the roots. Add the half you chopped from the bottom end to the other ingredients and reserve the rest for later. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Stir well and let stand for about half an hour.
Meanwhile, make the fish spice using a mortar and pestle to crush the combined fennel, coriander and cumin seeds with ¾ tsp salt until it forms a fine powder. Mix in the chipotle powder, scatter over the fish and toss coat the fish evenly.
When you’re ready to eat, warm the tortillas by heating each one on the edge of the barbecue hotplate (or in a hot cast-iron pan) for a few seconds on each side and store in a folded clean tea towel (dish towel). The tortillas will stay warm and soft.
To finish the salsa, add 1 teaspoon of salt, some pepper, the lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and the reserved chopped coriander leaves to the salsa and stir just to mix it well.
Oil the centre of the barbecue hotplate and fry the fish, stirring often, until cooked through. When it has changed colour, it’s cooked. As soon as it is ready, scoop from the hotplate into a warmed bowl and squeeze the lime juice over.
Lay all the ingredients on the table and let everybody help themselves. You make a taco by reclining a warm tortilla on your plate, topping with a little fish, plenty of salsa (avoiding the garlic cloves), and rolling it up. Perhaps put some hot chilli sauce on the table for heat lovers, too.
Recipe and image from Fat Pig Farm by Matthew Evans (Murdoch Books, hbk, $49.99).
View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.